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Higher education in the United States - Funding & Scholarship

Online Desk | February 25, 2013
Higher education in USA

Higher education in USA

Higher education in the United States includes a variety of institutions of higher education. Strong research and funding have helped make United States colleges and universities among the world's most prestigious, making them particularly attractive to international students, professors andresearchers in the pursuit of academic excellence. According to the Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities, more than 30 of the highest-ranked 45 institutions are in the United States (as measured by awards and research output). Public universities, private universities,liberal arts colleges, and community colleges all have a significant role in higher education in the United States.

The United States has a total of 4,495 Title IV-eligible, degree-granting institutions: 2,774 4-year institutions and 1,721 2-year institutions, an average of more than 115 per state. As of 2010, the US had 20.3 million students in higher education, roughly 5.7% of the total population. About 14.6 million of these students were enrolled full-time. The US is the most popular country in the world to study for international students, according toUNESCO. 16% of all international students go to the US (the next highest is the UK with 11%). 671,616 foreign students enrolled in American colleges in 2008-9. This figure rose to 723,277 in 2010-2011. The largest number, 157,558, came from China. According to Uni in the USA, despite "exorbitant" costs of US universities, higher education in America remains attractive to international students due to "generous subsidies and financial aid packages that enable students from even the most disadvantaged backgrounds to attend the college of their dreams".

Funding

Financial assistance for both private and public higher education comes in two primary forms: Grant programs and loan programs. Grant programs consist of money the student receives to pay for higher education that does not need to be paid back, while loan programs consist of money the student receives to pay for higher education that must be paid back. Public higher education institutions (which are partially funded through state government appropriation) and private higher education institutions (which are funded exclusively through tuition and private donations) offer both grant and loan financial assistance programs. Grants to attend public schools are distributed through federal and state governments, as well as through the schools themselves; grants to attend private schools are distributed through the school itself (independent organizations, such as charities or corporations also offer grants that can be applied to both public and private higher education institutions).Loans can be obtained publicly through government sponsored loan programs or privately through independent lending institutions.

Grant, scholarship, and work study program facts

Grant programs, as well as work study programs, can be divided into two primary categories: Need-based financial awards and merit-based financial awards. Most state governments provide need-based scholarship programs, a few also offering merit-based aid. Several need-based grants are provided through the Federal Government based on information provided on a student's Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The Federal Pell Grant is a need-based grant available from the Federal government. The federal government also has two other grants that are a combination of need-based and merit-based: the Academic Competitiveness Grant, and the National SMART Grant. In order to receive one of these grants a student must be eligible for the Pell Grant, meet specific academic requirements, and be a US citizen. A student's eligibility for work study programs is also determined by information collected on the student's FAFSA. Need-based financial awards are money or work study jobs provided to students who do not have the financial resources by themselves to pay for higher education. The intent of need-based financial aid is to close the gap between the required cost to pay for the higher education and the money that is available to pay for the education. Merit-based financial awards are money given to a student based on a particular gift, talent, conditional situation, or ability that is worthy of the monetary award, regardless of economic standing. The intent of merit-based financial aid is to encourage and reward students who exhibit these qualities with attendance at a school of higher education through the financial incentive. Not only does merit-based assistance benefit the student, but the benefit is seen as reciprocal for the educational institution itself, as students who exhibit exceptional qualities are able to enhance the development of the school itself.

Student loans

In 2012 student loan debt owed in the United States totaled over $1 trillion. In 2012, total student loans exceeded consumer credit card debt. There are many different types of loans that can be taken out by a student or the student's parents in order to pay for higher education. In general these can be divided into two categories: Federal Student Loans and Private Student Loans.

Federal student loans
There are five kinds of student loans available through the government: Perkins Loans, subsidized Stafford Loans, unsubsidized Stafford Loans, direct loans, and PLUS loans. A student's eligibility for any of these loans, as well as the amount of the loan itself is determined by information on the student's FAFSA. The interest rate and whether or not interest accrues on the loan while the student is in school depends of the type of Federal loan.

Private student loans
Students can also acquire loans privately, through banks, credit unions, savings and loan associations, or other finance companies (ref. article pg. 3). Private loans are typically used to supplement federal student loans, which have a yearly borrowing limit. However, private loans typically have higher interest rates than federal loans and may have more rigid repayment policies.

Education tax credits
US tax payers may be eligible for tax credits designed to help make higher education more affordable. There are two different tax credits meant to help defray the costs of higher education: the Hope Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit.

Unauthorized immigrants

It is estimated that 65,000 unauthorized immigrants graduate from high school each year. These graduates have lived in the United States for more than 5 years and most were often brought to the United States by their parents as young children.This leaves the U.S. Government with the question of what rights to give the unauthorized immigrants after their graduation, particularly with access to higher education. A 2010 study conducted at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) on unauthorized immigrants and higher education: Installing pathways to higher education and in-state tuition for undocumented students in the United States presents both opportunities and constraints in developing practices that promote social justice, equity, and equality. Those who are sympathetic to the challenges facing undocumented students may support opportunities to promote the potential of those who are deserving of incorporation and membership in U.S. society. On the other hand, proponents of tighter borders and tougher immigration laws may view all undocumented people, including model, hardworking young people, as "illegals" or temporary workers and consider them to be drains on the resources of society. This puts educational administrators in precarious positions since they are professionals who are trained to promote and support students in their pursuit of knowledge and self-improvement. Therefore, many professionals are left with little choice but to search for individuals and resources already established within outlaw cultures."

In 1996, the United States passed a law banning states from offering residency benefits to unauthorized immigrants that they didn't then also offer to every U.S. citizen. This basically made it so that states could not offer in-state tuition to unauthorized immigrants, even if they technically qualified based on residency status. States have argued the clarity of this law and many have enacted their own laws allowing in-state tuition to be given on the claims that it's based on high school attendance and not explicitly residency.This law is especially important since unauthorized immigrants are also unable to obtain governmental financial aid and are unable to legally work, leaving them without sources to help pay for out-of-state tuition. The Dream Act was introduced in 2001 and aims to give more access to higher education for unauthorized immigrants by repealing the law 1996 law. It also aimed to set up pathways for students who obtain higher education to become legal residents. The act has been introduced in many states and many different times, but has still not been passed. Critics of the act argue that it encourages more illegal immigration, that schools will engage in grade inflation so that border-line students can take advantage of the act, and that a financial burden could be placed on taxpayers. Proponents argue the opposite, emphasizing that giving the unauthorized immigrants an opportunity at higher education means they will be more self-sufficient in the future, contributing more to taxes and relying less on state resources. They also claim that children should not be punished for the actions of their parents and that giving them this opportunity would encourage them to be contributing and law abiding citizens. Whether this act would have positive effects on unauthorized immigrants attending college is still hard to see since not many states have actually done it and the time span has not been enough for thorough research. The 2010 UNLV study recommends key policy changes to support unauthorized immigrants access to higher education.

In general, practitioners need to weigh opportunities against constraints and consider the potential opportunities to promote social justice, equality, and equity in higher education access. Rather than considering undocumented students as "illegals" and restricting their access to legitimate educational pathways, it is recommended that, at the very least, those in positions of power adopt an outlaw cultural framework to support the strengths inherent within diversity as well as pursue avenues of social justice for undocumented students who are seeking to access higher education to improve their future and secure permanent membership in U.S. society. শিক্ষা সংক্রান্ত খবরাখবর নিয়মিত পেতে রেজিস্ট্রেশন করুন অথবা Log In করুন।

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